Do You Have an Ailing Sales Culture? Fix It with a Relationship Selling Culture


Many Bank and Credit Union Sales Cultures Could Use a Makeover

Have you noticed customers and members aren’t responding like they used to and more are becoming disengaged? This is no surprise as many banks and credit unions are stuck in the past, “doing sales” the same way since the 1990’s. This typically includes order taking, product dumping or routine transactional cross-selling rather than building relationships for sales over the long term.

As a result, we really don’t know much about our customers’ or members’ goals, future life events, life stage, financial health or how to build a trusting and loyal relationship. Plus, our CRM, which is a critical tool to help build relationships, may be gathering dust and not generating an ROI! Here are nine symptoms of an ailing sales culture. Do you see any similarities to your bank or credit union?

Discover how to get your staff learning more about your customers or members and mastering relationship selling. Watch the video of my presentation delivered at The Financial Brand Forum, Transforming Relationships Into Revenue: A Roadmap for Financial Executives

Nine Symptoms of An Ailing Sales Culture

1. Our people are so incentive driven they sometimes avoid solving customer problems in order to focus on opportunities that can lead to a sale and extra cash.

2. We’ve been using the same sales training and approach for years focusing mostly on identifying cues and matching a product. We want to get beyond immediate, “onesie twosie” transactional selling to a more holistic approach to meeting the member’s future goals.

3. Our mission statement says we are focused on the financial well-being and success of our customers. However, our goals and incentives encourage a short-term, “sell whatever you can approach”. We really don’t know their long-term goals and dreams so we can’t realistically make that big of a difference in their lives.

4. Our onboarding and sales processes are very transactional and product-driven which sometimes repels our members.

5. Our staff makes excuses or avoids making their onboarding follow up calls, so we don’t get to know the customer well enough and then miss follow up opportunities.

6. Our managers tell our staff they need to generate more sales, but they spend more time focusing on numbers and reports than on coaching, observing and developing their team members.

7. We focus heavily on walk-in and new members. However, we’re neglecting to reach out and do relationship building with existing members who no longer visit our branches. As a result, we’re not growing organically and I’m concerned these people are at risk of leaving us.

8. Our staff does not consistently capture customer conversations, life events, their dreams and challenges in a customer profile so we really can’t anticipate their future needs and be viewed as a financial partner.

9. Our staff has not embraced and adopted our CRM as a true relationship-building tool, so we’re concerned we’re not getting an ROI on our investment in CRM.

Relationship Selling Cultures Versus Transactional Sales Cultures

Click here to learn how a transactional sales culture with its conventional sales training differs from a relationship selling culture which is more palatable to both staff and customers and thus more effective.

Action Steps

With strategic planning coming up, now is the time to make any course corrections. If you have quite a few yes answers above, it may be time to ask your leadership two BIG questions?

1. Is it possible we’ve gone overboard in our sales culture and created behaviors that conflict with our mission, purpose and values of serving the financial well-being of our customers or members?

2. Is it time we advance our culture and encourage organic growth by transitioning from a transactional selling model to a relationship-focused approach?

The good news is there is a better way! By advancing beyond transactional selling to a relationship, advice-focused model you will grow organically, provide a differentiated experience and best of all, enjoy staff buy-in. Remember, technology alone does not build relationships, your people do. Elevate the role of your staff to be proactive, prepared and professional relationship managers.

To cure an ailing sales culture and advance to the next level of relationship selling, share this article and watch this video Transforming Relationships Into Revenue: A Roadmap for Financial Executives with your leadership team. In this video of a presentation I delivered at The Financial Brand Forum, you’ll find common challenges and receive a roadmap (slides are in the video) helpful in your strategic planning. Be prepared for what will likely be a robust and heartfelt discussion. Feel free to email me with your questions!

Barbara Sanfilippo, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning motivational speaker, coach, member relationship consultant and co-founder of High Definition Banking®. Barb is passionate about creating inspired employees and leadership committed to making a difference in the lives of their customers and members. She partners with progressive banks and credit unions to instill a structured, sustainable relationship management process to accelerate growth and focus on improving financial health. For consulting and training, visit . Engage Barb directly for your Annual Staff Event or retreat at 858-674-5500, ext. 101 or Barb@HighDefinitionBanking . View her speaker demo video at

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